Like so many people with MS, Mariska Breland remembers the disease’s onset as a combination of strange, seemingly disparate maladies that included tingling in her left thigh, numb feet, skin that felt “too thick” around her toes, foot drop, and double vision. One left her speechless.
“I was at work and all of a sudden I couldn’t speak,” she recalls. “It was really short, two minutes or something like that, but I realized I was unable to form words properly.”
It was 2002, and Breland, then 27, was ultimately diagnosed with relapse remitting multiple sclerosis. The diagnosis and symptoms shook her.
“That was a major hit for me,” she says.
Fitness and exercise had long been an integral part of her life.
“I was always somebody who liked working out,” she says. “I wasn’t a super-athletic person but I liked doing movement activities. And I was really into playing tennis. It was the sport I played in high school, never played in college, but it was my sport and the one that I really, really loved.”
The blow, she says, left her down — but not out.
“If anyone had to describe me in one word it would be ‘determined.’”
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